A Cruise on the Sam Patch
1800s Packet Boat Replica
The Erie Canal provided a safe and reliable route for trade and migrants via line boats (primarily freight carriers) and more passenger-friendly packet boats like Corn Hill Navigation's Sam Patch. Offering meals and sleeping arrangements, packet boats were primarily passenger carriers. Like other canal boats, they were propelled by horses or mules attached by towropes to the vessels, and led by drivers along the towpath. They were the fastest way to travel the canal, often exceeding the 4 mph speed limit!
Sam Patch, built by Mid-Lakes Navigation in 1991 for Corn Hill Navigation founder Ted Curtis, is a replica of an Erie Canal packet boat. Long and narrow to accommodate the constricted dimensions of the early canal, Sam Patch features an enclosed main cabin and an open air bow.
Sam Patch is named for the colorful daredevil who jumped Rochester's Genesee Falls in November of 1829. Although Patch had twice jumped Niagara Falls and survived, he failed to surface after leaping 97 ft. to the base of the Genesee Falls. His body was recovered at the mouth of the Genesee River the following spring and buried in nearby Charlotte, NY.
Corn Hill Navigation's Sam Patch packet boat docks at Pittsford's Schoen Place, a picturesque district of intriguing restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and businesses on the banks of the Erie Canal. Here buildings originally designed as canal and railroad warehouses have been adapted to house shops, businesses, and diverse dining venues. Visionary entrepreneurs have transformed a former coal tower into a restaurant and a flour mill into beautifully appointed offices.
SAM PATCH CRUISE ROUTE
A cruise aboard the Sam Patch departs from Schoen Place in the Port of Pittsford, NY. We travel west through the historic village of Pittsford, which retains much of its original charm and character thanks to a strong commitment to preservation. The canal, walkable tree-shaded streets, and restored historic structures provide an inviting ambiance.
We travel west just over a mile on the legendary Erie Canal, past park-like back yards, woods and fields, a fascinating New York Canal Corporation maintenance center, and a segment of an earlier stretch of canal that veered northwest into the City of Rochester.
Arriving at Lock 32 at Clover Street, we encounter one of the wonders of Erie Canal technology and a signature canal experience. Passing through massive, 40-ton gates, we enter the lock chamber from the low water side. Once we are inside the lock, the lower gates close and the chamber begins to fill with 3 million gallons of water, raising our vessel 25 feet. When the chamber is full, the upper gates open and we exit to continue our cruise. A little way further on we turn around to re-enter the lock on the high water side and lock back down, then cruise back to our dock in the village. Throughout our journey the Captain highlights points of interest and recounts stories of the Canal's colorful history.
Watch a video of Sam Patch going through Lock 32!
Dinner cruises (two and one-half hours in length) travel through Lock 32, then turn around and head east on the canal to the Great Embankment and back to Schoen Place. Lengthier private charters have the option of cruising east to the canalside Village of Fairport with its historic Lift Bridge, gracious homes and gardens, specialty shops, and front-porch friendliness – a two hour trip.
PITTSFORD, NEW YORK
Located minutes from downtown Rochester and easily , the Erie Canal village of Pittsford is a vibrant example of a traditional village downtown. First settled in 1789, the village was incorporated in 1827 and continues to value and preserve its heritage of nineteenth-century charm, grace, and individuality. The historic center of the village represents one of the earliest and best-preserved collections of nineteenth-century architecture in the region. The canal, community library, parks, schools, banks, churches, lodgings, coffee shops, a dairy, village and town offices, and restaurants are all within easy walking distance of the central Four Corners.
Within a five-minute drive of the village is the flagship store of regionally-based Wegman's Food Markets. Celebrities and tourists from all over the world visit this internationally acclaimed supermarket, distinguished by its superb customer service, spacious open-air market design, and profusion of product choices. Abundant shopping and dining opportunities are also found in the adjacent Pittsford Plaza.